On most visits to London, we find ourselves in Earl's Court, because it is serviced by both the Piccadilly and District lines of the London Tube. It is the closest central (Zone 1) London Underground stop to Heathrow airport, since once you board the train, it takes less than 30 minutes to get there. If you're going to Kings Cross you can add another 20 minutes to your commute.
The fact that it has an easily accessed elevator, for transporting heavy luggage to street level, is a big plus. This vibrant neighborhood is diverse and colorful with good value hotels and inexpensive dining options. Earl's Court Road is also filled with shops that I find very appealing when it comes to bringing home gifts for family.
The food hall has fresh produce and various take out foods like sandwiches and salads, perfect for impromptu picnics, but what I love most are the tins of cookies, or should I say "biscuits", that travel well. I have never tasted better shortbread and the tins are gifts in themselves.
These Belgian chocolate biscuits make a great gift for friends and were very easy to pack. I do have to wonder why my memory of their taste is so vivid; perhaps these never even made it to a friend.
If it hasn't occurred to you, that I'm fond of chocolates, maybe the photos here might give you a hint. M&S, Fair Trade Chocolates are some of the richest I've tasted. They're all intensely flavored, and feel like velvet.
One can never have too much chocolate, can you? So, let's take a look at the cereals. Both of these samples actually made it home with me and truthfully, they were a bit overkill in the chocolate department, but a child would love them. Who wouldn't like dessert for breakfast?
If you're thinking about adding to a gourmet pantry or would like a gift for an avid home chef, Simply food can help you find more than chocolate. Maldon salt is a flaked sea salt that would be well received by any cook
You can easily find it and its smoked flavor in London. M&S also sells other European salts like Falksalt, which produces a broad range of flavored salts. This was the first I'd ever seen of a chipotle flavored salt. Besides the smoke flavor this, offered a spicy flavor too.
Our only excuse for buying this cheese and pickle sandwich had to be temporary insanity. It was so very British it just begged to be tried. It's better to try one in a pub. We wanted to stay in, and made do.
The bottled water, however, was a nice and refreshing surprise, in more ways than one. The flavors were fresh. The elderflower water is on my list of items to pick up on our next trip.
When it comes to hotels, we have had good luck with The Mayflower on Trebivor Road, the Coronation along Nevern Square, The Ibis Styles Kensington Hotel on Hogarth Road and even the small Russel Hotel, again on Trebivor Road, although these days I prefer a hotel with a lift (elevator). Trying the Best Western Burn's Hotel this year has made me rethink my aversion to American Corporate properties in Europe. It seems they just affiliate with locally owned properties if their standards are met and maintained, in order to broaden their brand. The operation of the hotel is left to the original owners.
The trick to finding a decent sized room in London is to never accept a "standard" room, but to go for the next type at a slightly more expensive rate, such as a deluxe or executive room. When a hotel does not have an elevator I request a ground floor room or nothing higher than the 1st floor. Another good idea is to request the largest room available at that rate. The website LateRooms.com has been a fine resource for me to use in finding the lowest prices possible, and the prices are better the later you book, however, the selection also decreases.